Daniel 7:3 Index
"And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another."
Research Material

"...four great beasts..."

  • OUTLINE PROPHECY: ...What maybe called (an) outline prophecy, by which is meant a long sequence of epochs and events spanning the centuries, such as the four commonly recognized successive world powers of prophecy -- Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome -- as found in the great metallic image of the man outlined in Daniel 2; or in the same four world empires portrayed by the four beasts in Daniel 7. These are commonly recognized as covering the centuries, and reaching to the the same great climax of the ages. (Froom 32)
  • Beasts in Bible prophecy represent nations, just as an eagle is used to symbolize the United States, and a lion to depict England. "Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings which arise out of the earth." (Daniel 7:17). (Cox 77)
  • BEAST: Another term, common to symbolic Bible prophecy, is that of "beasts." Nations were effectively cartooned or portrayed by various well-known or unknown beasts, just as some are today: the British lion, the Russian bear, or the American eagle. In Daniel's day a lion, a bear, a leopard, and a fearful monster without an earthly replica appeared in Daniel 7, and the ram and he-goat of Daniel 8 are expressly explained by the prophet as symbols, respectively, of "Media and Persia" and "Grecia" (Daniel 8:20, 21). Similar "beasts" are pictured in the Revelation. These terms are not epithets of derision; they are simply the divine method of cartooning nations and their careers through the centuries. So a prophetic "beast" merely means a kingdom or nation, no more and no less. (Froom 32-33)
  • The application of the symbol is not left to speculation. According to Daniel 7:17 the four beasts represent "four kings, which shall arise out of the earth." The fourth beast is specifically called "the fourth kingdom" (Daniel 7:23). There is general agreement that these four beasts represent the same four world powers symbolized by the metallic image of Daniel 2. (4BC 820)
  • The definition of the symbol of the four beasts is given to Daniel before the close of the vision: "These great beasts, which are four, are four kings which shall arise out of the earth." Daniel 7:17. With this explanation of the symbols, the field of the vision is definitely opened before us.... Since these beasts denote four kings, or kingdoms, we inquire, Where shall we begin and what four empires are represented? These beasts arise consecutively, for they are enumerated from the first to the fourth. The last one is in existence when all earthly scenes are brought to an end by the final judgment. From the time of Daniel to the end of this world's history, there were to be but four universal kingdoms, as we learned from Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the great image in Daniel 2, interpreted by the prophet sixty-five years before. Daniel was still living under the kingdom denoted by the head of gold. (US 106)
  • The first beast of this vision must therefore denote the same kingdom as the head of gold of the great image, namely, Babylon. The other beasts no doubt represent the succeeding kingdoms portrayed by that image. But if this vision covers essentially the same period of history as the image of Daniel 2, the query may arise, 'Why is it given? Why was not that first vision sufficient?' We answer, 'The history of world empires is passed over again and again in order that additional characteristics may be brought out, and additional facts and features may be presented. It is thus that we have "line upon line" (Isaiah 28:10, 13) according to the Scriptures. In Daniel 2, only the political aspects of world dominion are portrayed. Here earthly governments are introduced in their relationship to God's truth and God's people. Their character is shown by symbols of wild and ravenous beasts. (US 106-107)
  • Daniel's prophetic vision, in the first year of Belshazzar, likewise harmonizes with Babylonian symbolism. Like the four metals of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, the four beasts rising out of the sea represented the sequence of kingdoms. Daniel's symbolic beasts -- the lion with eagle's wings, the bear holding three ribs in his mouth and rising himself up on one side, the four-headed leopard with four wings, and the strange and terrible beast with ten horns -- may all seem fantastic to us. Yet the idea of picturing nations as animals should, after all, be familiar to moderns who cartoon Great Britain as a lion, Russia as a bear, the United States as an eagle, and the like. And the strange and composite forms of Daniel's animals were not at all fantastic to the prophet and his contemporaries in Babylon, but were familiar figures.... We are familiar today not only with the man-headed winged bulls and lions, dating from Assyrian times, but also with Nebuchadnezzar's glazed-brick reliefs of animals, including the composite sirrush or mushussu on the famous Ishtar Gate, and those of the lions along the walls of the approach to Nebuchadnezzar's palace quarter, flanking the sacred Procession Street, which entered this towered gate. (Froom 47-49)

"...came up from the sea..."

  • The world powers represented did not bear rule contemporaneously but successively. (4BC 820)
  • Four great beasts came up from the sea; that is, they arose into prominence from the midst of the multitudes of earth. In other words, there was war among the nations, and four kingdoms arose, diverse from one another. Babylon, the first of these kingdoms, was represented to Nebuchadnezzar as the golden head of the great image. To Daniel the same power appeared as a lion, having eagles' wings. The strength of the monarch of the forest, to which is added the swiftness of the king of birds, is taken to represent the kingdom of which the city of Babylon was the capital. Over fifty years before, Jeremiah had spoken of the Babylonian power as a lion. (SNH 103)

"...diverse one from another."

  • The diversity here spoken of was illustrated by the different metals presented in Daniel 2:38-40. (4BC 820)